Monday, 5 November 2012

Re-entering planet Normal-No-study

Life after study is becoming more interesting as I emerge from the fug of post submission tiredness. I have begun to work on my latest stained glass project, regained the capacity to read books with words of three or more syllables, and even thought about getting the hoover out for the piles of dust that accumulated under the bed while I concentrated on writing my last coursework.  I haven’t quite got round to actually getting the hoover out but I am working myself up to it gently.  One can’t rush these things. Besides – it is Halloween season!

Views of my house
Now the clocks have gone back, it really feels like winter is close.  I have now completed my student contract work in reception on the Greenwich Maritime Campus.  I started there in August when main Clearing opened at the beginning of A Levels results week.  I loved working just opposite the Maritime Museum and next to the Thames where I could take my cobweb -head-clearing walks.  Being a mere stroll away from Greenwich market meant I could pick up tasty treats for lunch.  With the School of Humanities based at Greenwich, the campus library stocks loads of novels and DVDs which can be borrowed by any student so I took full advantage of my freedom from study to indulge in catching up on some good fiction.

Back in August I blogged about my horror at the prospect of being a part of the Social Media team doing Twitter, Facebook, Foursquare and Livechat. Three months on I feel an old hand at it.  I have managed to make photo albums in facebook and fill them in with pics of events including Olympics preparations and festivities, Freshers’ Week and the summer graduations.

I enjoyed taking on the role of unofficial roving reporter /photographer.  I learnt to answer quite complex queries on twitter in 140 characters while still placing apostrophes in the correct positions and avoiding the most annoying of text speak abbreviations.  I haven’t really grasped Foursquare, but my supervisor Tony began to call me the Livechat Queen as I notched up 1807 chats by the time I finished working with him.  I did not enjoy the role of Livechat operator.  I was chatting with up to four people at a time and flitting from one to the other, trying to ensure I gave the right response to the right person - quite a skill that I did not always manage.  I chatted with people from all over the world and on two occasions, spoke to students studying on my course.  That was quite funny as I realised who they were immediately but because we work under a different name to protect our privacy, they did not know who I was until I told them in the chat. I was asked on a few occasions whether I was a robot to which I politely responded ‘No I am a person’.  I asked in the office for ideas of tempting responses and received the following suggestions:

Your friendly University of Greenwich Livechat operator

‘We are mobots, not robots’ - Lizzy, inspired by the Olympics

'Yes, we have a remarkable engineering, science and computing departments, I am the first artificial intelligence of my kind’ – Emily

‘0100010011000000110111100’- Jen

‘Only on weekends’ – Jerusha

‘Cannot compute, cannot compute’ – Ami

‘Maybe we are robots! We just failed the human verification test’ – Ami

At one point I was doing Livechat sitting in the beautiful Student Common Room on the Mansion Site with views of the plants in the attached conservatories known as the Winter Gardens.  As the plants bloomed in the summer heat – especially one particularly massive banana plant – I was tempted to respond ". Well now the humans have all been eaten by triffids...."

The Winter Garden

..but  as a true professional , I resisted all temptation!

We all had some quite ‘interesting’ conversations and enjoyed swapping stories of our most memorable ones.  This was one of my favourites.  I have changed the names of both the visitor and the operator.
Hello David. How may I help you?
How is the university goin' brother?
It is really good here at Greenwich. Do you have any questions I can help you with?
Wonderin if you have a pool and bar

We have a Student Union bar.
But no pool, where am I going to get my speedos on and show all the pretty babes.
There is a public pool you can use. We also have themed nights in the Student Union events
Is there kareoke. I love Aqua (the band).
Yes there is karaoke.
Mint. I'm well goin Greenwich. See you there.
We look forward to you starting.

I left Greenwich to the sounds of the Olympic stands finally being dismantled thus restoring those wonderful views of the observatory and Greenwich Park. The ground in the front of the museum and in the university grounds that was so damaged by the Olympics is also being restored and re-turfed and soon all traces of the Olympics equestrian events will have disappeared leaving just the memories of a remarkable summer in London and Greenwich.

It was strange to leave Greenwich on Wednesday and start a new job on the Avery Hill campus on Thursday.  I felt like a newbie as I was welcomed to the team in the Education Liaison Unit as a temporary staff member where I will be attending recruiting events, helping to manage the student staff, writing and doing presentations about various aspects of university study and student life, and, in between, fitting in the necessary office work. Luckily any tedium is relieved by working with a fun team and listening to music that changes each day depending on who is in the office and selects the playlist.  
Getting in the mood for work!
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